Wow, we are less than 5 weeks from race day 2017. That means we have two long runs left in training before the taper. All your training to this point has you ready to complete these last long tests and will propel you to the finish line on April 29. One of the great things about knowing you have the fitness to complete the mileage is that you can focus on the rest of your race preparations during these final weeks. Practicing everything from your meal the night before, morning routine, race day outfit, shoes, and your in-race nutrition will give you time to adjust anything that doesn’t quite work. The old mantra “nothing new on race day” seems played out, but it’s used so frequently for a reason. Many a race has gone south because runners have decided to try new shoes or the newest gel pack and had it backfire at mile 9. Honestly, the very best thing you can do for yourself now is to go through everything as you would on race week/day as a trial run.
The easiest way to derail a race is to have last night’s dinner catch up with you on course. Avoiding it however is simple, try it now! Pasta dinners are the go to, but may not be right for you. Some may have iron stomachs and can handle non-traditional meals that are spicy or greasy, but most cannot. Generally, you want easily digestible carbs and lean protein the night before a long run or race. My biggest meal is lunch the day before a race, rather than dinner. Dinner for me is just to top off my stores and avoid hunger overnight. Then I focus on getting breakfast in 2-3 hours before the gun goes off, again something with easily digestible and accessible carbs.
In addition to your pre-race meals, you want to start consuming some nutrition during your workouts. If you are going to be running or walking for more than 60 minutes, you’ll need some simple carbohydrates like sports drink or gels on the course. There is a wide spectrum of options however, from all liquid to “real food” like dates or bananas. Gels, chews, chomps, waffles etc. are all good choices but are very different both in how you intake them and how your body may handle them. I know several people who cannot STAND the consistency of gels but will happily chew on a waffle mid-run. Use this weekend’s long run to test one of the options and adjust as necessary. Lots more on eating on the run here.
Gear – clothing, shoes, socks, watches
The post race shower doesn’t lie. No matter how much you might adore that cute purple running skirt and black singlet, if it chafes you the shower will tell all! Better to find out now that something bothers you. You can always add extra Body Glide or go back to your favorite old outfit! This is even more important with your footwear. Obviously, you want your race shoes to have as much life left on them as possible but that does not mean taking them out of the box and immediately racing. Ideally, race shoes should have about 40 miles on them. You want to get a couple shorter workouts in, a long run, and a quality run (speedwork) if you do those. That combination gives you a true feel for the shoes in many situations but still leaves them with plenty of nice cushioning to treat your feet on race day.
Lastly, learn how to use your watch now. Practice, practice, practice with it until you can do it almost without looking. Also, make sure you know where your charger is and do any updates required. If I had a dollar for all the times I hear about a watch causing race day stress, I’d be running in Hawaii by now. Please please learn your watch and take care of it if it is important to you in a race.
Enjoy and Relax
The last month of training is so amazing because you are fit and ready. You are just refining your training to take full advantage of that fitness. Take time to enjoy this month. Look around and take it all in. This journey is yours and every single one is special. It doesn’t matter if this is your first race ever or your 100th; every race season is unique and incredible. The last week will likely be a blur of activity, so enjoy these last several weeks of training! The weather even seems to be cooperating for us too. See you all on April 29th! – Happy Training!